Dear Rössing Bursary Holders,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I welcome you to this function, the official handover of Rössing Uranium Bursaries for the 2008 academic year.
Let me take you back in history. When Rössing commenced production in 1976 the company had difficulties in recruiting suitably trained and industrially experienced Namibians. It is this harsh reality that prompted the company to take a firm stance to train and develop its own manpower to enhance its production capacity.
Since then we have never looked back. Rössing took up the challenge and during the past 30 years the company has added greatly to the pool of skilled labour available in Namibia. From its inception, more than 10, 000 people have worked at Rössing, many of them are now in leadership positions in various sectors of the economy.
One of Namibia's distinguished citizens, Mr Frank Fredericks, is an example of Rössing's prime products. As a young man he joined the mine, and he was later sent through a Rössing scholarship for overseas studies.
Today Mr Frank Fredericks is a respected businessman and an esteemed member of the Rössing Board of Directors.
There are many more current and past Rössing employees who have either received bursaries for technical or university training, who attended artisan training programmes or who attended leadership development programmes.
Against this background, I would like to emphasise that as part of the Rio Tinto companies, Rössing is indeed working for Namibia. At the moment about 97% of the company's workforce is Namibians.
With the extended lifespan of the mine, the company has once again reaffirmed its position to further invest in its human capital. This has resulted in an increased number of bursaries available. The number of new bursaries awarded during the past two years, have increased significantly from about five bursaries annually to 22 new bursaries in 2007 and 31 in 2008. Rössing awards bursaries in areas where it experiences a shortage of skills to fill important posts to run the mine efficiently.
This year alone, we will be spending almost N$4 million on our current and new bursary holders. Our vision is to have the right people in the right roles doing the right jobs right the first time.
Just last year in 2007 the company awarded 22 bursaries for university and college degree and diploma studies, to the value of about N$1, 7 million. In the same year a total of 124 bursaries for Apprenticeship training were awarded to value of about N$2, 6 million.
Some of the students that you see here today are the products of this Bursary Scheme.
This year 31 new bursaries are awarded. The recipients are in the fields of chemical, electrical, mechanical and mining engineering as well as accounting, occupational health and safety, geology, survey, environmental management, occupational therapy and human resources.
As you will note the mine has picked the cream of the crop. For example, one such student is Carmen Loots of Swakopmund who was the best Grade 12 female student, with six subjects in higher grade, in Namibia last year. Well done, Carmen! Unfortunately Carmen has already left for the University of Stellenbosch to follow a degree in Actuarial Science.
On behalf of Rössing's senior management team and all employees, I would like to congratulated all new and current bursary holders and wish the all the best for their 2008 study year.